Wednesday, December 30, 2015

When I was a kid, I and many of my friends had BB guns; very realistic looking rifles and pistols. Here is a photo of the one I owned which was my favorite. My friends and I wandered the fields in our neighborhood shooting at things. I once accidently shot a friend in the back, which produced a nasty welt. Another kid once intentionally shot at me from a distance and the BB hit my eye. I came very close to losing my vision in that eye. In both of those cases, had they been bullets and not BB's, death or very serious injury would have occurred. 

I can only assume that it was because I was a white kid in a mostly white neighborhood that I could carry my BB gun around and never had any interference from the police. Additionally, that was 40 years ago and guns (and gun violence) had not proliferated into the plague that it is today--causing police to be hyper-vigilant and proactively belligerent in order to avoid being gunshot victims themselves. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that what Tamir Rice was doing in that playground when he was gunned down by police was no different from what I and my friends did day after day when we were his age. The difference is that he was African-American in an African-American neighborhood and that he had the misfortune of living in a time and place where gun violence and the resulting paranoia is at a fever pitch. We have got to do something about both the institutional racism and the madness of guns in our land.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.

-- Howard Thurman

Friday, December 25, 2015

I wish you a blessed Christmas. May we all see Christ--the revelation of God and of God's subversive, upside-down kingdom--all around us and birthed into our midst not in power and privilege and wealth and religiosity but in smallness, quietness, humility, graciousness, compassion, kindness, inclusivity, self-sacrifice and love.

 (Painting: The Nativity by Gari Melchers)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015

As a Christian, I was taught--following the example of Jesus--to come against evil in the opposite spirit; to counter hatred with love, fear with courageous compassion, violence with peacemaking, ignorance with empathy... What I see in this video--coming from an elderly white Jewish man and a young Muslim woman of color--is the embodiment of what Jesus taught and demonstrated. And ironically, it is the antithesis of what I see modeled by so many who profess to be followers of Jesus.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, approximately 120,000 Japanese men, women and children in the U.S.--a majority of them American citizens--were rounded up and forcibly relocated to spartan internment camps in remote locations. They were stripped of their humanity and reduced to a caricature: Japs. Interestingly, the same was not done to people of German or Italian descent during WWII. Besides the humiliation of blatant racism that these Japanese-Americans suffered, many lost their homes and businesses. This ugly, nasty, ignorant over-reaction by some Americans and by the American government is now looked upon with great shame (and for a long time many did not want to acknowledge that it occurred).

And yet, here we are again. The details are different but the underlying xenophobia and racism are the same. At its root is the great sin of tribalism and fear of those different from us. Some folks--many of them professing Christians--are beginning to say and post things about Syrian refugees and about Muslims in general that I can't imagine ever coming out of the mouth of Jesus. Jesus welcomed people--even those considered to be "the enemy." He saw their humanity. He taught us to care for those who are strangers to us, even if there is risk and sacrifice involved.  He said to do unto them as we would hope someone would do unto us.

Do you know what the most often repeated phrase in the entire Bible is?
Do not be afraid.

In U.S. history, this cycle of fearful, ignorant, xenophobic reaction against "them," followed by inhumane actions, followed by (eventual) shame and regret has repeated itself over and over. I can't help but think, here we go again.